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Video:The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

with William Morgan

Martin Luther King was an activist and hero of the Civil Rights Movement. In this history video from About.com, learn about the tragic assassination of MLK in Memphis, TN, as well as information about James Earl Ray.See Transcript

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Transcript:The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Hi this is William with About.com and today I’m going to tell you about the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

King was in Memphis Supporting the African-American Sanitation Workers

It was on April 4, 1968, that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., was shot dead by a sniper on the balcony of his hotel room in Memphis, Tennessee. In March 1968, King went to Memphis, Tennessee to support the African American sanitation workers who were on strike for equal wages and working conditions. On March 18, King spoke to over 15,000 people at the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee. Ten days later King led a march on behalf of the striking workers. On Wednesday, April 3 King arrived in Memphis, Tennessee, preparing for another march on April 8. His flight to Memphis was delayed by a bomb threat. That evening King delivered the famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" address closing the speech mentioning the plane threat.

King and the Lorraine Motel

King went back to the Lorraine Motel to rest after the speech. On April 4, 1968, King and close friend Ralph David Abernathy were getting dressed to have dinner with minister Billy Kyles. King and his entourage were in a cheerful, happy mood. King began hitting Andrew Young with a pillow and a short pillow fight ensued until King reminded everyone of the time.

As the party made their way out Abernathy went back to the room having forgotten to apply his cologne. King was standing on the motel’s balcony. Some, including Jesse Jackson, were waiting in the parking lot. King chided Jackson for not being dressed for dinner. Jackson jokingly replied he didn’t need a coat and tie, only his appetite.

King is Assassinated

A gun shot was heard at 6:01 pm. King was struck by a .30 bullet, entering through his right cheek, passing through his neck and stopping at his shoulder blade. Abernathy heard the shot and ran to his friend. King arrived at St.Joseph’s Hospital within fifteen minutes of the shot. The doctors performed an emergency surgery, but he never regained consciousness. King was pronounced dead at 7:05 p.m. at age 39.

The Aftermath of MLK's Death

The news of King's death caused major outrage and racial violence in at least 110 cities. Shortly after King's death a package was found close to a boarding house across from the Lorraine Motel, containing a rifle and binoculars. Both had matching fingerprints to those of an escaped fugitive by the name of James Earl Ray. Ray had been renting a room at the boarding house across from the Motel. Ray was arrested two months later at London Heathrow Airport. He later confessed and was sentenced to a 99-year prison term.

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